People in China have probably noticed that people on their social networks have been sharing vintage-looking caricature avatars featuring themselves. From tech-savvy young people, selfie-lovers to moms and pops who just start to get the hang of social networking, a wide demographic is using MomentCam, allegedly the world’s first photo-editing app that generates caricatures from real portraits.
MomentCam has gone viral in the past three months. In August, it rolled out on Android and accumulated 20 million users within 70 days; on October 22, it launched its iOS version and since then new users per day have averaged 2-3 million; on November 10, it landed on Baidu’s app distribution platform and saw a significant boost in visibility, aggregating more than 80 million users per day.
Snap your own portrait and let the app cartoonize it, then you can share the playful portrait on QQ, Weibo, WeChat, even Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Remarkably, the Chinese app has 20% of its users overseas, mostly in Thailand.
Why is it so popular? Huang Guangming, maker of MomentCam and a member of the entrepreneurship club, Dark Horse, sees two killer features of the app: city dwellers/multitaskers want entertainment that is fast and easy to start. No kidding, I asked my parents to try it and they joyfully sent back their artworks within ten minutes.
There are other aspects that make MomentCam stand out from existing photo-editing apps like Meitu or Baidu PhotoWonder. First off, the app is a self-mocking experience, freeing people from their hyper self-awareness daily routine. Second, there is little concern about privacy since faces are hardly recognizable, so people feel comfortable sharing their caricatures on social media – free advertising. It is also addictive. Users keep anticipating what funky creatures they will turn into. Lastly, the caricatures are high-quality works from trained artists and developers keep pouring new cartoons into the suite.
Update: MomentCam raised an undisclosed series A round of funding in September, 2014, from Alibaba.